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left the conjugal home w/o any apparent cause.

Plaintiffs learned that


Topic PUBLIC OFFICERS; MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE; defendant has another family. He married Nieves C. Ygay and had 5
VOID MARRIAGE children with her.
Case No. [A.M. No. MTJ-95-1070.| February 12, 1997
Case APIAG VS. CANTERO Side of defendant: Cantero alleges that his marriage with Apiag was only
Name dramatized at the instance of their parents and that he did not fully give
Full Case MARIA APIAG, TERESITA CANTERO SECUROM his consent. They were forced to acknowledge their signature. Maria and
Name and GLICERIO Esmeraldo had an affair and had a child, Teresita. Their families agreed
CANTERO, complainants, vs. JUDGE ESMERALDO to marry them in name but will not cohabitate as husband and wife, the
G. CANTERO, couple being close relatives. Cantero maintains that they never lived
respondent. together as husband and wife.
Ponente PANGANIBAN , J.
Doctrine This Court ruled that "Filomena Abella's marriage with the That respondent did not file any annullment (sic) or judicial declaration
respondent was void ab initio under Article 80 [4] of the (of nullity) of the alleged marriage because it is the contention and honest
New Civil Code, and no judicial decree is necessary to belief, all the way, that the said marriage was void from the beginning,
establish the invalidity of void marriages." (Odayat vs. and as such nothing is to be voided or nullified, and to do so will be
Amante, 77 SCRA 338 341, June 2, 1977). Now, per current inconsistent with the stand of the respondent. The instant case was
jurisprudence, "a marriage though void still needs . . . a simply filed for money consideration. Defendant and Respondents
judicial declaration of such fact" (Wiegel vs. Sempio-Diy, 143 signed a compromised agreement in March 1994 that contains promises
SCRA 499, 501, August 19, 1986) before any party thereto from the defendant to fulfill parental obligations to his children from
"can marry again, otherwise, the second marriage will also Apiag. In return, the complainants will dismiss the cases they have filed
be void." (Sempio-Diy, Alicia V., The Family Code of the against him.
Philippines, p. 46, 1988). This was expressly provided under
Article 40 ("The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may Respondent Judge died on September 27, 1996 while this case was still
be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of being deliberated upon by this court.
a 9nal judgment declaring such previous marriage void.") of
the Family Code. However, the marriage of Judge Cantero to ISSUES/ Court’s Ruling
Nieves Ygay took place and all their children were born
before the promulgation of Weigel vs. Sempio-Diy and 1. Gross Misconduct not Applicable
before the effectivity of the Family Code.
The misconduct imputed by the complainants against the judge
Nature Resolution of Administrative Case that may affect retirement
comprises the following: abandonment of his first wife and
benefits
children, failing to give support, marrying for the second time
without having first obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of
RELEVANT FACTS
his first marriage, and falsification of public documents.
According to Complainants: In Aug. 11, 1947 Maria Apiag married
The acts imputed against respondent Judge Cantero clearly
Esmeraldo G. Cantero. They had a daughter, Teresita, born on June 19,
pertain to his personal life and have no direct relation to his
1947 and a son Glicerio, born on Oct. 29, 1953. Thereafter, Esmeraldo
judicial function. Neither do these misdeeds directly relate to the at restitution and his eventual triumph in the reformation of his
discharge of his official responsibilities. life.

2. Whether or not the first marriage is void and did the Respondent Dismissal from service as recommended by the Office of
commit Bigamy? the Court Administrator would be too harsh.

This Court ruled that "Filomena Abella's marriage with the respondent However, we also cannot just gloss over the fact that he was
was void ab initio under Article 80 [4] of the New Civil Code, and no remiss in attending to the needs of his children of his first
judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void marriages." marriage — children whose 9liation he did not deny. He
(Odayat vs. Amante, 77 SCRA 338 341, June 2, 1977). Now, per current neglected them and refused to support them until they came up
jurisprudence, "a marriage though void still needs . . . a judicial with this administrative charge. For such conduct, this Court
declaration of such fact" (Wiegel vs. Sempio-Diy, 143 SCRA 499, 501, would have imposed a penalty. But in view of his death prior to
August 19, 1986) before any party thereto "can marry again, otherwise,
the promulgation of this Decision, dismissal of the case is now in
the second marriage will also be void." (Sempio-Diy, Alicia V., The
order.
Family Code of the Philippines, p. 46, 1988). This was expressly provided
under Article 40 ("The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be
invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a 9nal judgment
declaring such previous marriage void.") of the Family Code. However,
the marriage of Judge Cantero to Nieves Ygay took place and all their
DISPOSITIVE
children were born before the promulgation of Weigel vs. Sempio-Diy
and before the effectivity of the Family Code. WHEREFORE, premises considered, this case is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
3. Personal Conduct of a Judge

The absence of a 9nding of criminal liability on his part does not


preclude this Court from 9nding him administratively liable for
his indiscretion, which would have merited disciplinary action
from this Court had death not intervened.

Respondent Judge still violated Canons 2 and 3 of the Canons of


Judicial Ethics.

4. A Penalty of Suspension is Warranted

Man is not perfect. At one time or another, he may commit a


mistake. But we should not look only at his sin. We should also
consider the man's sincerity in his repentance, his genuine effort